Welcome to A Scarlet Cord of Hope, the 2021 advent series of University Fellowship Church Women written and read by Jaime Sherman, who penned our Christmastime narratives from biblical, Jewish, and historical sources to tell how God wove hope from creation to the creche and who continues to point us to the final fulfillment of hope in the one-day-soon second coming of Jesus Christ. Scripture is taken from the English Standard Version unless otherwise noted.
today’s suggested reading
And at the end of eight days, when the baby was circumcised, he was called Jesus, the name given by the angel before he was conceived in the womb. And when the time came for their purification according to the Law of Moses, they brought him up to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord (as it is written in the Law of the Lord, “Every male who first opens the womb shall be called holy to the Lord”) and to offer a sacrifice according to what is said in the Law of the Lord, “a pair of turtledoves, or two young pigeons.”
Now there was a man in Jerusalem, whose name was Simeon, and this man was righteous and devout, waiting for the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was upon him. And it had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not see death before he had seen the Lord's Christ. And he came in the Spirit into the temple, and when the parents brought in the child Jesus, to do for him according to the custom of the Law, he took him up in his arms and blessed God and said, “Lord, now you are letting your servant depart in peace, according to your word; for my eyes have seen your salvation that you have prepared in the presence of all peoples, a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and for glory to your people Israel.”
And his father and his mother marveled at what was said about him. And Simeon blessed them and said to Mary his mother, “Behold, this child is appointed for the fall and rising of many in Israel, and for a sign that is opposed (and a sword will pierce through your own soul also), so that thoughts from many hearts may be revealed.”
And there was a prophetess, Anna, the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was advanced in years, having lived with her husband seven years from when she was a virgin, and then as a widow until she was eighty-four. She did not depart from the temple, worshiping with fasting and prayer night and day. And coming up at that very hour she began to give thanks to God and to speak of him to all who were waiting for the redemption of Jerusalem.
Today we meet Simeon and Anna in Jerusalem as their longing for a Messiah is recognized in the Baby nestled in a young mama’s arms. They spot Him not because a golden halo hovers over Him or an audible voice declares, “This is the Messiah.” No, they recognize the Son of God incarnate as a baby because they are living set apart for God, ever in His presence.
Luke records that Simeon was a righteous and devout man, who was waiting for the Comforter to come. And — we must not miss this — the Holy Spirit was upon Simeon. In a day when God had not yet sent His Spirit to live continually with His people, the Spirit’s presence wasn’t a guarantee, and yet here is Simeon in step with the Spirit. He has been told by the Spirit that he will not see death until he sees the Lord’s Christ, and it is by the nudge of the Spirit that Simeon arrives at the temple as Mary and Joseph present the Baby in accordance with long-held Jewish law. Taking the baby into his arms, Simeon declares:
“Lord, now you are letting your servant depart in peace, according to your word; for my eyes have seen your salvation that you have prepared in the presence of all peoples, a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and for glory to your people Israel” (Luke 2:29-32).
As Mary and Joseph marvel and Simeon blesses them, he speaks over Mary hard but beautiful words: “Behold, this child is appointed for the fall and rising of many in Israel, and for a sign that is opposed (and a sword will pierce through your own soul also), so that thoughts from many hearts may be revealed” (Luke 2:34).
Then, a gracious and aged prophetess named Anna approaches the young couple. We don’t know if Simeon directed her to the One who would redeem Israel or if the Spirit nudged her forward, but we do know that she knew with certainty this was the Messiah. After long years of worshipping with fasting and prayer night and day within the temple, she knew this was the One deserving her thanks and praise, and it poured from her lips.
Simeon and Anna recognized Jesus as the One they had been waiting for because they had devoted their lives to worshipping God with their actions, their resources, their thoughts, and their words. Everything they did in life was with their eyes lifted to God in hope for the One He would send to deliver them.
As you read or listen to Luke 2:21-38 today, consider whether you would have missed the coming of Jesus more than 2,000 years ago because your eyes weren’t lifted to God. Are you in danger of missing Him today in the bustle of this season? Are you living a life of constant worship before God? Or are your actions, eyes, and heart distracted by the things of this world?
Jaime Sherman is a writer and editor for ufcwomen.blog but most importantly a child of the King of kings, the wife of one amazing man for nearly 20 years, and mama of five girls and one boy. Learn more about her adventure in writing and enjoy some free resources on our main page for this series.